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French Women Mayors

Women are at the helm of Paris and the European co-capital city Strasbourg. More than a quarter of largest French cities are run by women.*


December 2023: Mainland France consists of 36,569 municipalities (communes) in 22 regions. In addition, there are 212 communes in French overseas territories. Council elections are held every six years. The last full ones were held in March (first round) and, after a delay due to the COVID pandemic, the second round took place in July 2020. The next French municipal elections will be held in 2026.


Women mayors in France from top left: Anne Hidalgo (Paris); Martine Aubry (Lille); Johanna Rolland (Nantes); Karine Franciet (Aubervilliers); Ericka Bareigts (Saint-Denis, Réunion); Brigitte Fouré (Amiens)

 

In the 2020 municipal elections the Greens (EELV) made significant gains, capturing large cities like Marseille, Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Lyon, while France’s ruling party, Renaissance, lost its two remaining city halls. The French Socialist Party recorded three gains and three losses but held on to Paris, Lille, Rennes and Dijon The centre-right Republicans, while winning in Toulouse, Metz, Nice and Saint-Étienne, lost one city hall to the Socialists and another to the far-right. The far-right National Rally, formerly the National Front, captured the mayoralty of the southern city of Perpignan from the centre-right Republicans.

 

Women were re-elected as mayors in principal cities like Paris, Lille, Nantes and Rennes and newly elected in Marseille (1), Strasbourg and Besançon. Women are now at the helm of Paris and the European co-capital Strasbourg.

 

Six of the 14 French female mayors belong to the centre-left Socialist Party (PS); five are members of various centre-right parties, while three women mayors are ecologists.

 

Among the re-elected women mayors in 2020 were Maryse Charton (Aix en Provence), Brigitte Fouré (Amiens), Cecile Helle (Avignon), Martine Aubry (Lille), Michèle Lutz (Mulhouse), Johanna Rolland (Nantes), Anne Hidalgo (Paris) and Nathalie Appéré (Rennes).

 

Newly elected were Anne Vignot (Besançon), Michele Rubirola (Marseille) and Jeanne Barseghian (Strasbourg). (1) Please note: Michele Rubirola resigned for health reasons in December 2020, five months after her election. She was succeeded by Deputy Mayor Benoît Payan.


French political parties

PCF (Communist party)

FI (Left-wing populist party)

PS (Socialist party)

EELV (Green party)

RE (Renaissance, centrist, liberal. Party of French President Emmanmuel Macron)

UDI (Centrist, liberal party)

LC (Les Centristes, conservative, pro-European)

LR (Centre-right Republicans)

RN (Far-right National Rally)


Female mayors of the 50 largest French cities

Aix-en-Provence

Popl: 142,000 (National rank 23)

Sophie Joissains, Mayor since 2021

Party / Politics: UDI (Centrist, liberal)

Previous jobs: Member of the French Senate from 2008 to 2020; Deputy mayor from 2020 to 2021.

 

Amiens

Popl: 134,000 (National rank 27)

Brigitte Fouré, Mayor since 2014

Party / Politics: LC (The Centrists)

Previous jobs: University lecturer.

 

Aubervilliers

Popl: 89,000 (National rank 50)

Karine Franciet, Mayor since 2020

Party / Politics: UDI (Centre-right)

Previous jobs: Councillor of Department of Seine-Saint-Denis

 

Avignon

Popl: 96,000 (National rank 48)

Cecile Helle, Mayor since 2014

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

 

Besançon

Popl: 117,000 (National rank 33)

Anne Vignot, Mayor since 2020

Party/ Politics: EELV (Green party)

Previous jobs: Degree in geography. Between 2006 and 2014, director of the botanical gardens of Besançon.

 

Lille

Popl: 231,000 (National rank 10)

Martine Aubry, Mayor since 2002

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

Previous jobs: Minister with various portfolios 1991-2000 (when as Minister for Employment she initiated the '35-hour working week reforms'); President of Lille Urban District.

 

Mulhouse

Popl: 112,000 (National rank 39)

Michèle Lutz, Mayor since 2017

Party / Politics: Party: LR (Centre-right Republicans)

Previous jobs: Owner of a hairdressing salon for from 1985 to 2016 and from 2006 to 2016 President of the Mulhouse hairdressing association; First woman to be mayor of Mulhouse; She started in politics in 2014; Deputy mayor of Mulhouse from 2014 to 2017, responsible for local economic development.

 

Nantes

Popl: 293,000 (National rank 6)

Johanna Rolland, Mayor since 2014

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

Previous jobs: Degree in urban development; First female mayor of Nantes; President of Nantes Metropole since 2014; President of EuroCities 2014 – 2016.

 

Paris

Popl: 2,230,000 (National rank 1)

Anne Hidalgo, Mayor since 2014

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

Previous jobs: Worked for the French civil service, primarily in the Labour Inspectorate for 26 years; this was interspersed with periods as a technical advisor to ministers during the Lionel Jospin administration; First elected to Paris City Council from the 15th arrondissement in 2001; Deputy mayor under Bertrand Delanoë; First woman to be elected Mayor of Paris.

 

Poitiers

Popl: 134,000 (National rank 49)

Léonore Moncond’huy, Mayor since 2020

Party / Politics: EELV (Green Party)

Previous jobs: Degrees in politics from the Universitiy of Poitiers and the University Paris-Descartes; Regional councillor (Nouvelle-Aquitaine) from 2015 to 2020.

 

Rennes

Popl: 211,000 (National rank 11)

Nathalie Appéré, Mayor since 2014

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

Previous jobs: Degree in politics; Member of National Assembly from 2012 until 2017.

 

Saint-Denis (Réunion)

Popl: 154,000 (Rank 19)

Ericka Bareigts, Mayor since 2020

Party / Politics: PS (Socialist party)

Previous jobs: Law degrees from University of La Réunion and Pantheon-Sorbonne (Paris); Minister of Overseas France from 2016 to 2017; Member of the National Assembly from 2012 to 2016 and 2017 to 2020.

 

Strasbourg

Popl: 266,000 (National rank 8)

Jeanne Barseghian, Mayor since 2020

Party / Politics: EELV (Green party)

Previous jobs: Studied French-German and environmental law in Strasbourg; After studies worked for Alsace regional council to develop sustainable tourism in the Rhine valley.

 

Tourcoing

Popl: 99,000 (National rank 44)

Doriane Bécue, Mayor since 2020

Party / Politics: Independent on the right

Previous jobs: Deputy Mayor, Vice-President Metropolitan Council of Lille.

 

* The research was conducted in December 2023 among the 50 largest French cities.



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